Deadline a 'very different scenario' for Cubs

Hoyer balancing club's ability to go on a run with keeping eye on future

July 9th, 2021

CHICAGO -- It was only two weeks ago that Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was fielding and making calls with the idea that his team would be a buyer at the Trade Deadline. The tone of his recent conversations has shifted.

"Obviously, people are now calling to see which players are available," Hoyer said. "It's a very different scenario than we expected. Life comes at you fast."

Hoyer took a seat inside the home dugout on Thursday afternoon ahead of the Cubs' 8-0 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field. The defeat was the 12th in 13 games for Chicago, which snapped a potentially franchise-altering 11-game losing streak on Wednesday.

The Cubs have turned the page on that lengthy skid -- the 11th losing streak of at least 11 games in club history -- but erasing the damage is an improbable task for the North Siders. Hoyer called the losing streak "really painful" for all involved. But now, the front office's path in the days leading up to the July 30 Deadline is fairly clear.

"Listen, we still have games to play," Hoyer said. "There's nothing to say we can't run off a bunch of wins here. We've done it. We were one of the best teams in baseball for a pretty long stretch."

After delivering those hopeful comments -- based on the fact that the Cubs did rattle off 19 wins in May to climb to the top of the National League Central at the time -- Hoyer then issued the reality check.

"But certainly," he continued, "when you're in this moment and your playoff odds get into single digits at this time of year, you have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you can potentially make that can help build the next great Cubs team.

"So yeah, I think you have to think through those things. I think it'd be irresponsible not to take those phone calls and think through it."

Here is some of what Hoyer and his front office have to consider:

• The Cubs did not reach extensions with core stars , or during Spring Training. That puts all three on pace for free agency at the end of this season.

• Closer is in the midst of a brilliant season (0.57 ERA through 33 appearances) and could impact plenty of October-minded clubs. He has a $16 million team option for 2022.

, , and each have options for '22, making it possible for them to join the dozen-plus Cubs players who could hit the open market next winter.

• The Cubs entered Thursday with a 6.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs. That was down from 35.7 percent on June 24, following the no-hitter against the Dodgers that preceded the 11-game skid.

Of course, those are all things for Hoyer and his team to weigh in the coming days and weeks. The man on the top step of the Cubs' dugout, manager David Ross, does not want his players getting too wrapped up in the storylines, reports and rumors that are undoubtedly coming.

Ross hopes his team can have some tunnel vision as it tries to reverse course in the series ahead.

"I think everybody has known kind of what's possible coming into the season," Ross said. "So, hopefully that doesn't change. I don't think these guys haven't heard any of that stuff before. Whenever the finality of those decisions are made, then that's when you'll kind of reflect.

"Until then, we really need to focus on baseball and playing good baseball night in and night out and doing the best we can for this organization and for one another."

It seemed fitting that Hoyer’s meeting with the media came on a day that both Báez and Bryant were absent from the lineup (due to minor health issues), young arms and (potential building blocks) endured some growing pains on the mound and the offense went dark (a persistent problem).

While Hoyer did include the necessary qualifiers required with the season still in progress, he did not mind doing a little reflecting.

"When we got here," Hoyer said, "we talked about building a team that the fans could identify with, that they'd see year after year, that had that consistency. And we've done that. ... We've probably been as stable as anyone.

"At some point, there's going to have to be some turnover with the roster, in part because right now we're not seeing the results that we need to as a roster. That's not pointing any fingers on any individual guy."

Part of that inevitability rests with the fact that the cornerstones of Chicago's core group -- sans extensions -- have ticked toward free agency at the same time. Hoyer was asked if that is a situation he would hope to avoid down the road in the name of sustainability.

"I'd love to have that again, if I'm being honest," Hoyer said. "We had a ton of talent that came up through the system at the same time. Conceptually, staggering it perfectly would be great. But when I look at the number of All-Star, MVP, Cy Young caliber players we've had at one time, that's why we've been in the playoffs five out of six years and won divisions and won the World Series.

"It's because we had those core players, so I actually look at that as a positive. We talked about kind of having the wave of guys when we got here and those guys happened to hit at the same time. And I think that was a great thing."